Scouting Yankees Prospect #16:Abiatal Avelino

The New York Yankees signed shortstop Abiatal Avelino out of the Dominican Republic for $300,000 back in December of 2011. A quad injury in his first full season last year and some subsequent lackluster numbers as a result helped disguise what is not only one of the higher-ceiling prospects in the organization but also one of the more polished players too.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Abiatal Avelino
Position: Shortstop
DOB: February 14, 1995
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Batting and Power. Avelino has all of the natural abilities to be a high-average hitter someday; excellent bat control, advanced swing path, repeatable mechanics, patient approach, and superb pitch recognition. What ties it all together though is he doesn't try to do too much at the plate. He allows the game to come to him and he takes whatever the pitchers give him; he's not swinging for the fences and that makes him an extremely efficient situational hitter. A patient yet aggressive hitter, he doesn't walk a whole lot yet but the ability to do so down the road is already present. While the power is probably a tick below average right now, he has very strong hands that gives him projectable long-term average big league power potential. While he most likely won't be a prolific home run hitter, he should be able to rack up a ton of extra-base hits given his ability to go gap to gap and with his aggressive running style.

Base Running and Speed. More above average [perhaps borderline plus] speed-wise than elite, what makes Avelino such an impact runner on the base paths is his combination of ultra-aggressive running style and heady baseball instincts. He is as smart as they come on the bases and he shows excellent running instincts. He has the ability to be a perennial 30-plus stolen base threat and one who will take the extra base regularly out of the batter's box.

Defense. Avelino's baseball intelligence is not limited to the base paths; he's about as smart as they come defensively too. Physically he has all of the tools of a plus defensive shortstop; plus arm strength, above average range that plays at a plus level given his jumps on balls, and some of the best hands around. However, it's his innate feel for the position that makes him an elite defender. He knows when and where to throw the ball, and he knows when not to force the issue either. He's also played some second base where he has excelled as well and his plus arm strength allows him to shift over to third whenever the need arises.

Projection. Though his ability to play both second base and third base at more than an acceptable level [he could probably excel in the outfield too] gives him the kind of versatility that could be very much welcomed in a big league reserve role, Avelino has all of the physical tools to be a difference-making player on both sides of the ball [outside of plus power potential] and all of the high-level mental intangibles that allow him to be one of the safer bets to reach his ceiling someday too. A little Derek Jeter like in that regard, like Jeter it's his high level of baseball intelligence and unflappable demeanor that really stand out. He has impact abilities both offensively and defensively as a big league starting shortstop.

ETA. 2017. Had it not been for the unfortunate quad injury last season there might have been a realistic chance he could have been big league ready as soon as next season. Those lost months, however, have probably pumped the breaks on what should still be an accelerated track through the minor leagues given the fact that he doesn't have a glaring weakness in his game.

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